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Ravens, Flacco Excel in No-Huddle


Much has been made of the Ravens having a faster tempo in practice and games under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but that pace speeds up even more when Baltimore's unit goes no-huddle.

The no-huddle has looked old-hat to rookie quarterback Joe Flacco – and not just operating out of the familiar shotgun formation he ran at the University of Delaware.

In last week's 27-13 win over the Miami Dolphins, Flacco had his best game of the year, completing 17 of 23 attempts for 232 yards, one touchdown and his finest passer rating of the season (120.2).

He did much of that thanks to execution in the no-huddle, both under center and in the backfield.

"I think Joe is very comfortable with the no-huddle [offense]," said wideout Derrick Mason, who led all receivers in Miami with six catches for 87 yards. "Not too many young quarterbacks are comfortable in that situation, [but] I think Joe thrives in that situation. So if your quarterback is comfortable and your offensive line is comfortable, then you're going to move the ball."

The no-huddle works mainly because it makes it difficult for a defense to change personnel and coverages because the offense can snap the ball at any moment.

That showed against the Dolphins, when Baltimore racked up 357 total yards. In addition to Flacco's performance, running back Willis McGahee's 105 yards marked his first time topping the century mark this year.

And, the Ravens ran the no-huddle on 24 of 67 plays.

"We caught them a couple times when they weren't even lined up, and we were running plays," said tight end Todd Heap. "I think that's going to help us. I think that's going to help us because defenses are going to have to make their decisions quicker than they're used to.

"They're not going to be able to rely on, 'Oh, we can change this personnel up,' or 'We can change for this down or put in this sub-package when we want.' They really have to be on their toes to see what we're doing if we're going to no-huddle [or] if we're going to huddle and change the personnel."

Flacco seemed confident rallying his team to the line of scrimmage, promptly making a call and delivering the football where it needed to go. Even though he was sacked two times and hurried three others, the 18th-overall pick remained poised and did not toss any interceptions.

"I think Joe likes to run it," noted head coach John Harbaugh. "I don't know if he prefers it over the huddle or not. We've never really talked about that. But I think*it *puts defenses in a tough spot. It makes those guys operate maybe a little more simply at times, and that's an advantage to the offense.

"We've had some success in it, and other times we haven't. But it's been effective so far, and Joe seems comfortable with it."

Yet, it is undeniable how the no-huddle has given a boost to the entire unit.

When the Ravens were clinging to a tenuous 7-6 lead in the second quarter following a 26-yard field goal, Flacco promptly answered with a 67-yard ensuing drive that featured the no-huddle four of 11 plays.

Flacco threw for 57 yards before hitting Mason for an 11-yard touchdown strike.

"Anytime you go more than three, four, or five plays against the defense, you kind of wear them out with that no-huddle," Mason explained. "That's what we tried to do last week – just get on the ball and stay on the ball and put the pressure on the defense. That's why it was so effective for us last week."

Then, coming out from the halftime break, the Ravens exclusively used the system on a 13-play, 67-yard march that culminated in a 28-yard field goal from kicker Matt Stover, effectively putting the game out of reach.

It is unclear how much the no-huddle offense will be used against the Oakland Raiders, who boast the NFL's 26th-ranked defense. But considering Cameron's history of unpredictable play-calling, foregoing the huddle is just another way the Ravens can keep opponents off-balance.

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